To begin to understand Asia’s deep-rooted obsession with being fair-skinned, we first need to go back in history. Many countries in South Asia and South-East Asia were colonised by Europeans back then where the white race was deemed more superior, and the dark-skinned race was considered lower class. Unfortunately, white supremacy has been ingrained in us for generations which is why it is not uncommon for parents to be on a quest to find out how to make their babies fairer.
In hopes that their children will be more accepted when they grow up, parents sometimes become overzealous with making their baby’s skin fair with all sorts of remedies that are not necessarily safe.
We’re here to say that there is NOTHING that can whiten a baby’s skin because your baby’s skin colour, whether dark or fair, is determined by his genes.
Therefore, there is nothing you could have done during your pregnancy or now, that would ever change your baby’s natural complexion.
How about improving my baby’s complexion?
Where changing the colour of your baby skin is utter nonsense, improving your baby’s complexion, on the other hand, is definitely far more plausible even if research on this is pretty limited too.
Here are some food recommendations that you can consume while your baby is forming in your womb, to increase your baby’s chances of having good complexion:
#1 Cherries and Berries
Cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are all fruits that contain high concentrations of antioxidants. These antioxidants help to prevent premature ageing by reducing the damaging effects caused by free radicals. Breastfeeding mums can continue eating them after giving birth because eating them because they will not cause a drop in your milk supply.
And since berries are packed with vitamin C that is water-soluble, this means they will help boost not just your body’s immune system, but your baby’s immunity too.
#2 Fatty Fish
Fatty fishes such as tuna, salmon and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help to repair cell membranes, which in turn help to ensure your baby’s skin elasticity.
However, we don’t always have to turn to imported fish to meet our daily needs because our local fishes are just as nutritious. Patin, Catfish(keli), Snakehead (haruan), Terubok, Anchovies (ikan bilis) and Kembung all have favourable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acid which are known to prevent all sorts of diseases.
Rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, the Avocado is a fruit that is also known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But more importantly, Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, which in turn will improve your baby’s skin tone.
Even researchers have found that a high intake of fat — especially healthy monounsaturated fat, like the fat found in avocados can help increase skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Often mistaken as a vegetable, the tomato is really a fruit. Its bright red colour comes from the nutrient called Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, that can help protect the skin against harmful UV rays from sun exposure.
Tomatoes are also full of antioxidants like vitamin C, which help to reduce the amount of cell-damaging free-radicals in the body so that you can have a more youthful complexion. However, some breastfed babies might be sensitive to the proteins that pass into mum’s milk from acidic foods.
It is all in the Genes
Is there’s nothing that I can do? No, because the amount of Melanin in your baby’s skin is determined by his genes and Melanin is the pigment that decides how fair or dark your baby’s skin will be. Does Melanin serve any purpose? Yes, it protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, especially rays that cause sunburns and skin cancer.
All newborns tend to look fairer at birth, sometimes with a slight pinkish hue because of the red blood vessels which will still be visible through their thin skin. However, this is not your baby’s actual skin colour. Over the next few days, you will notice your baby’s skin getting slightly darker when he or she starts producing Melanin. This is your baby’s actual skin colour.
Of course, your baby’s skin colour will continue to change from time to time. If babies are exposed to sunlight regularly, naturally, their skin will get darker, and when that stops, they might appear fairer. But the bottom line remains: they will never be fairer than their natural skin colour.
“Oh then maybe I should just keep my child away from the sun.”
The answer is NO because keeping your baby away from the sun on the pretext of ensuring fair complexion is not healthy. For example, if your baby was born with newborn jaundice, your doctor might suggest that you sunbathe your baby in the mornings for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Exposing your baby to sunlight is an effective way to break down bilirubin. One hour of being in the sun is equivalent to 6 hours of phototherapy at the hospital. Think again, do you really want to make that hospital visit?
Even when your little one is older, it is essential for him or her to get some outdoor play. Getting some sun is beneficial to their developing eyesight, overall health and physical development. It also helps them to produce Vitamin D, which is needed for strong and healthy bones.
Some mothers might try to change their baby’s skin tone by using home remedies or creams that claim to work. First of all, these creams will not make your baby fairer. For all we know, some might even be harmful.
So don’t try to change the colour of your baby’s skin. Yes, there’s always the odd throwback gene if someone in your family was fair, but don’t bank on it too much. Regardless, your baby will be just as adorable and loved by you and those around you. So try not to fuss about your baby’s skin colour. Fairer skin does not mean more beautiful skin. We should really try to be more accepting of our own colour and break the influence on white supremacy.